|Review: Hammerfall - Dominion|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2019
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Review online: August 15, 2019
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
Hammerfall have always been a "to-go" band for me when I was a teenager. Back in 1997, Glory to the Brave blew my socks off with strong songwriting, awesome atmosphere and a most welcomed back-to-the-roots attitude at the time. I had a similar feeling when, after many years of just...well, basically existing, the Swedish Templars got their priorities together once again and delivered the powerful Built to Last (2016). Here we are again, then, with Hammerfall's eleventh crusade to the depths of the Metal realm, Dominion, which continues in many ways were their previous endeavor left off.
As it is with many of Hammerfall's previous efforts, there is a small – yet very prominent – chunk of forgettable, inoffensive moments. Here we have the uninspired "Testify", a song that could easily be part of the horrible Infected (2011), as well as the sappy "Second to One" (because it's not a Hammerfall album without a cheesy as hell ballad). These have their moments, but it's just not enough to make the tunes anything but fillers.
On the other hand, maturity seems to have caught up with Dronjak and team in moments of pure inspiration such as "One Against the World" and "Scars of a Generation", for instance. Both are constructed to be heavy hitters and future consolidated classics like "The Way of the Warrior", "Heeding the Call" and "Hearts on Fire", just with less raw quality and a more professional approach.
Musically and instrumental-wise, Dominion is exactly what you would expect from Hammerfall. The problem is that the songwriting and the inspirational parts are also what we could expect from them in a more negative way in some selected parts. As a fan, it pleases me to see another good album by Hammerfall filled with nostalgia and some cool new twists, especially in the maturity and easiness of their way of playing. As a reviewer, I see a few flaws in Dominion that could have been prevented with some more rawness and passion instead of polished songwriting, but nothing that turns it into a mediocre album. I would put the album in a middle shelf as far as Hammerfall records go, somewhere between Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken (2005) and Threshold (2006). Albeit a step back compared to Built to Last, it's a good statement that the Templars of Steel are alive and well.
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